NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 03/22/12 -- Investment opinion highlighting Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) and Stevia First Corp (OTCBB: STVF). Zenith International, a specialist consultant to the food and drink industries worldwide (http://www.zenithinternational.com/articles/753) has recently reported the worldwide stevia market is estimated to reach nearly $1 billion in market value by 2014. Companies like Stevia First (OTCBB: STVF) are aiming to gain a foothold in the supply side of the industry as corporate giants begin to integrate Stevia into their top line brands.
"As rising levels of obesity and diabetes continue to dominate headlines, there has never been so much emphasis on reducing our caloric intake as well as consuming healthier foods and beverages," commented Zenith Senior Market Analyst Anya Hembrough. "After persistent efforts by key producers, legislators worldwide are finally giving the green light to this new zero-calorie sweetener."
According to the report, the market for stevia began to increase in 2008 when steviol glycosides, the sweetening components of the stevia leaf, were deemed to be safe and Rebaudioside A, one particular steviol glycoside, was granted GRAS status in the United States. Since then, approval by legislators across the world has opened the door to new formulations and reformulations of foods and beverages with zero or reduced calorie content. Its status as a global ingredient was secured with its incorporation into leading soft drinks brands manufactured by Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) and PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP). Coca-Cola has confirmed that it has launched stevia-sweetened varieties of Sprite and Nestea in France with 30% less sugar -- the first roll-out using its headline brands on a major market since European Commission approval of Stevia.
Starbucks has introduced a new line of "Refreshers" beverages that target the $8 billion U.S. energy drink market. The fruit-flavored drinks are made with a virtually flavorless extract of green, unroasted coffee, and pack less caffeine kick than coffee drinks made from roasted beans. The drinks are sweetened with stevia.
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